Successes Continue in Afghanistan Operations
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2006 Coalition and Afghan forces have found many weapons caches, taken suspected insurgents into custody, and provided medical care to civilians in recent operations in Afghanistan.
Successes continue in the Afghan government's "Peace through Strength" program, designed to encourage reconciliation with legitimate authorities. The program allows Afghans to reconcile with provincial and national authorities at any time by turning in illicit arms and pledging allegiance to the legitimate Afghan government. In return, the Afghans become eligible for allied employment and assistance programs.
- Sixteen local nationals turned in a variety of weapons April 22. The Afghans, from Kunar province, turned in two AK-47 assault rifles, seven British rifles, 25 rockets, 10 mortar rounds, five 82 mm rounds, and four improvised explosive devices to authorities in Nurgal and Shigal districts.
- Two village elders in the Korengal Valley region, working in cooperation with Task Force Lava leaders, also delivered two low-level fighters to program director Haji Rosie Khan April 23.
- On April 26, nineteen Afghans also reconciled with the Afghan government and were released from the Bagram Detention Facility to Afghan authorities. They were detained for conducting militant activities against the Afghan government and the coalition. They have reconciled, swearing allegiance to the government and promising to reenter society as productive members supporting the growth and progress of their country.
Reconciliation offices are located in Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez, Kandahar, Herat and Kunduz. Several reconciliations have taken place in Kunar province since the beginning of Operation Mountain Lion, U.S. officials said.
"Employment is the key; if you're employed and you have a good source of income, you won't be tempted to accept $5 to put an IED in the ground," U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Forsyth, of Task Force Spartan, said. "You can then remove fighters from the fight, encouraging security and reconstruction."
In other news from Afghanistan, enemy fighters shot an Afghan boy from the district of Nuristan in the thigh April 25. A village elder from Daba contacted Afghan and coalition forces to seek medical assistance for the 16-year-old boy. He was treated at Forward Operating Base Naray and sent to a local clinic for further medical evaluations.
"I think this shows the callousness and the complete disregard for the people of Afghanistan by the enemy," Forsyth said. "They state they care about the people in this region, but their actions clearly reveal their true intentions."
U.S. soldiers of Task Force Vanguard discovered a weapons cache in Paktia province during a patrol April 27. The cache contained 17 rockets, 155 mortar rounds, 1,000 machine-gun rounds and 38 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds. A coalition explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache.
"Recovering and disposing of these weapons increases the safety and security of Afghans and reduces the danger in the area posed by criminals and insurgents who might use those munitions indiscriminately to cause harm on the Afghan people, Afghan security forces, and coalition forces," Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman, said.
Task Force Titan soldiers found 20 pounds of explosives, a mine, a rocket motor, and an improvised explosive device detonator near the Chawkay district, in Kunar province, April 25. An IED team safely disposed of the munitions.
Task Force Iron Grey soldiers also found a weapons cache in the district of Jaghatu, in Ghazni province. A search-dog team discovered nine boxes of Dishka machine-gun rounds, controlled-detonation cord, 30 mortar charges, and 13 live-fire fuses. An explosive ordnance disposal team safely removed the cache.
"IEDs and caches and explosive devices are a threat to all Afghans," Forsyth said. "People should notify Afghan or coalition authorities whenever they suspect such dangerous explosives are in their areas for use by terrorists and extremists."
(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)